Innovation stems from collaboration and the sharing of unique ideas and perspectives. In order to revolutionize the state of the male-dominated executive landscape, women must be committed to learning, growing and challenging each other. We must invest in the next generation of female leaders by providing them with resources, tools and networking opportunities that can help pave their way toward C-suite roles. Redstone had the privilege of interviewing a woman who has made a significant contribution to this initiative by opening her own business with a focus on empowering and inspiring women to achieve their full potential.
Meet the Second Interviewee…
What are the key qualities of a successful leader?
An exceptional leader is someone who doesn’t always have the answer, but is curious, open and recognizes that developing a collective team allows for a bigger think-tank. A leader doesn’t always have the right answers, but asks the right questions. When a leader challenges their team with questions, it allows the team to think independently, critically and creatively. A great leader empowers their team to think broadly so that each player on the team has the opportunity to bring out the best in themselves and others.
Tell us about your career path. Specifically, what inspired you to transition into corporate coaching and consulting?
I worked as an executive in retail for many years in both Canada and the US. I was the President of the Bombay Furniture Company in Canada and was also the Vice President of Holt Renfrew. I decided to start my own business working with female executives to help them establish unshakable confidence in navigating the corporate environment, the board room, the C-suite and to assist companies in uncovering unconscious bias. One of the main elements I loved about working as a corporate leader was inspiring and supporting others to achieve their career goals. As a coach, my focus is on helping women to determine goals for themselves and to achieve those goals. I got to the point in the corporate world where I knew that I needed to set my own pace and ensure that I had a healthy balance. Not only does coaching provide me with this healthy balance, but it also gives me stimulus that I need because I get to meet and work with so many amazing women.
Have you coached any female executives who have experienced resistance in their journey to leadership because of their denial of stereotypical gender norms?
This is probably the most common theme that I come up against – whether it be an egocentric colleague making inappropriate comments or simply the struggle to stay afloat as the only female in the office. My advice is to take a step back and realize that it’s not about you, but rather the other person’s self-esteem as to why they may lash at you or make comments that make them feel bigger. I coach my clients on how to pull themselves out of this way of thinking, to not take it personally, and to look at it for what it is. This is hard to do, but with practice, we can all shift our way of thinking. It’s important to be authentic to yourself, learn how to approach difficult situations with confidence and avoid internalizing negative reactions. Once you’re confident in yourself and develop a positive outlook, you’ll be willing and able to conquer anything.
What advice can you provide to junior female professionals who are striving to become business leaders?
If you want to climb the corporate ladder and excel, you have to take a step back and consider what you’re missing and what you need to work on and then find the tools and resources that are going to help you to achieve that. This could involve taking classes or finding a coach to guide you. Ultimately, the individual must have the internal motivation and drive to initiate the process of self-improvement. I recommend working with a coach or mentor who you can trust and who is going to push you out of your comfort zone and challenge your thinking. A coach can help build confidence, identify your strengths and goals and can also help you to determine the next step.
What advice can you give to women struggling to strike a balance between the demands of work life and personal life?
Be clear about your boundaries, not only with those you work with, but with yourself and do not feel guilty about it. When you’re in the corporate world, there is an underlying assumption that you have to be there 24/7. From my perspective, the pressures that I often felt were self-inflicted. It’s easy for us to let the critical voice in our head take over. I wish I had had a coach in my early years to help me to realize that I was crippling myself. My advice is to take the time to reflect and understand what the cost will be to you if you don’t focus on finding balance. Balance does not mean all things in equal parts and can come in so many different forms – whether that be taking a vacation to a new destination or deciding to have a family. It is important to have that balance because, at the end of the day, it will allow you to be a more effective leader and have a more fulfilling career.
Redstone would like to extend a sincere thank you to Vicki for participating in this interview. If you are looking for inspiration and direction in reaching your full potential and may be interested in a coaching session with this accomplished and motivational coach, please contact Vicki directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.